And The Nominees Are…

It’s mid-February, the hyped season for the highly anticipated award ceremonies: the Grammys and Oscars. Amongst the bedazzled, floor-length, backless gowns, dapper suits and flashing paparazzi — there’s an underlying desire for these actors and musicians alike to be validated by what name lies inside the fancy little envelope.

But in this digital day and age, when a multitude of movies and music are fairly easy to come by with just a click of a button, it’s hard to wrap one’s mind around how the AMPAS (Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences) and NARAS (National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences) can select one winner from a handful of nominees considered to be the epitomized artists for the past year.

Talent in the arts is heavily influenced by the subjectivity of the board of judges. Although there is a general criterion to what makes a good musician (the ability to keep rhythm, intonation, tone, etc.) and a decent movie (plot line, cinematography, screenplay, etc.), there is definitely quite a deal of discrepancy when it comes down to declaring which piece of art is the best of the very best.

Is it skill, creativity or commercial ability that really gives one artist an edge over another? Should the Grammy go to the singer who can hit the highest note, the one who innovates their respective genre or the top-selling artist on the Top 40? Should the Academy Award winner be the actor who immersed themselves in their character for days, maybe years on end; the screenwriter who transformed the remake of a classic film into a radically revolutionary masterpiece; or the movie that sold the most tickets out of the box office? There’s a lot to scrutinize over how an elite group of individuals decides which artists are worthy of a nomination, let alone the award; how are these people any less vulnerable to personal bias than anyone else, regardless of their expertise and experience?

There is not exactly an answer or solution to direct how these award shows judge talent, for the whole issue of deciding who is the most talented will always be opinion-based.

Not to say that there is not any merit for those who are lucky enough to receive these prestigious awards. It’s always gratifying to be recognized for one’s abilities, especially given the esteemed reputation of winning a Grammy, Oscar, Emmy or Tony. Therefore, it is crucial to remember, when criticizing the justification of whether the winners of these awards deserve them, that they are a reflection of the opinions of AMPAS and NARAS, and that other award shows such as the People’s Choice Awards and the MTV Movie Awards exist to be geared toward a fan-favorite-based award show versus the longstanding professional integrity of the Grammys and Oscars.

The Grammys and Oscars are less about who deserves to win the award and more about celebrating talented artists who have distinguished themselves enough to be recognized by high and mighty associations and academies during the past year. In this case, the winner does not take it all; it is better to view that these award shows serve to be a memento of the year in the entertainment industry, commemorating a few of the many talented artists amongst us that help create the music and movies that were prevalent and prominent in the performing arts realm.

Tracy Ratledge is a second-year literary journalism major. She can be reached at